Since the last time I tried a selection of WordPress Plugins, which you can read here, things have changed.
I’ve removed a few, sometimes because I’ve found something better, or because the plugin didn’t work as well as I liked. I’ve also started to use quite a few more which I’ll tell you about here.
These are not the kinds of plugins you’ll see in most “WordPress Plugin” articles. My blog was working happily, these are not essential, but they each add a little flair or a little safety to your blog.
Add Post Footer
I’ve noticed many blogs using their post-footer real estate a lot more, so I’ve added an info box and some clickbank ads at the end of my posts. Using a plugin or widget rather than editing the themes directly means you don’t lose your changes if you change themes. Unfortunately, I’ve altered my theme quite a lot but the plugin is still very useful.
For the info box I simply sourced an “information” graphic and put that, and some links to various areas of my site, into a CSS based box. Yes – I’ve been delving into CSS a little too, but more on that later.
For the Clickbank Ads I used a simple tool that’s on the Clickbank site itself to generate a simple script.
There’s also a few other plugins that do the same job, such as HeFo (HEader FOoter) that also lets you change other areas, and also a feed footer tool that let’s you add footers to your RSS – great for getting your info out if your blog content is scraped/stolen!
I used this because, simply, it looks pretty… There are countless social bookmarking plugins for WordPress, and I use a few here, but this is a nice addition that has attractive icons. I still use the venerable Add This and Tell A Friend plugins which a similar job, but Sexy Bookmarks are a little more immediate than a pop-up button menu.
I find WP Greet a rather amazing plugin! In some ways it is a little similar to “What Would Seth Godin Do?” which a lot of bloggers use, but it’s more flexible.
Like WWSGD this plugin will welcome someone who hasn’t been to your blog before, with a little message that slides in above your post. This allows them to subscribe to your RSS feed, or whatever.
However, where it goes further is that it detects where your new reader has come from. If they come from Digg, for example, the message will say “Welcome Digger!” and emplore them to Digg your post. Or “Welcome Stumbler!” and ask them to give a thumbs up. There’s a lot of such social networks built into this plugin, and each comes with a nifty icon along with the message.
For people who arrive via search engines there’s another feature. Along with the “Welcome Googler!” message there will also be the search term used, and a list of related posts.
SEO Booster Lite
An ingenious idea. This finds if your visitor has arrived to your site from a page 2 listing at Google, and then creates a new link which is displayed via a widget with that search term in it – linking to the original post.
An example might explain it better. Say, a user searches for “How To Cook Fish” and you have a post that lists for that term, but only on page 2, then this plugin will create a new “How To Cook Fish” link in your blog sidebar (via that widget).
The end effect is it gives a little boost to the ranking you have for that term, and may even get you to page 1.
And it’s also fun to see the search terms people find you with – the page 2 ones at least – appear on your blog. They might not always be what you expect!
This plugin gives you numerous ways to work with Twitter. The most useful are the fact you can display your tweets as a widget (usually in your sidebar), and auto tweet for every post you make.
You can also automatically make a post, or a daily or weekly digest post, of your tweets, and tweet directly from the widget/sidebar.
Very useful for you crazy twitterers out there but here I mainly using it to display a few tweets and to autotweet the posts. I’m not a big twitter user but this does have a small effect on traffic. If you were a major user you would get much more benefit from this.
The best way to describe this is to send you to the plugin screenshot page via that link above. Basically, this plugin lets you spice up your posts by including notes.
These notes stand out from the post by being bordered and highlighted, but they also have a small image included. Notes can be Note, Tip, Warning, Info, or Important – displaying a, for example, warning triangle on the “warning” style.
It looks cool, and can be useful, but so far I’ve only used it one post.
WP Database Optimizer
This plugin is slightly different. It won’t alter the way your blog looks one bit, and it won’t help you get more traffic. But it can, in some circumstances, help it run faster and more securely.
This will simply optimize your WordPress database. It has more or less the same effect as firing up PhpMyAdmin and optimizing the SQL but since most users won’t be doing that, or even know what it means, this plugin is good way to keep things running quickly and smoothly.
This does a little more, such as remove revisions (those posts that you’ve edited a thousand times that leave behind old versions) and remove spam, but essentialy it does what is says on the box.
Google Sitemap Generator
A simple, but useful, plugin for WordPress. This makes a sitemap for your blog that is updated with every new post you create. Because this blog is on top of a legacy site I hesitated to use this, incase something happened to the rankings of old non-blog pages, but everything seems ok so far.
You can also add pages outside the blog to the sitemap manually – which I have and it can be time consuming. But once it’s done it’s really set and forget.
Go to Google’s Webmaster Tools, add your sitemap, and you’re done. It’s also worth adding their tracking code to your Blog – best put in the main footer, or via a “blog footer” or Analytics plugin, and use Google Analytics to see useful data on your traffic such as the landing pages, referral pages, searches, and much more.
I don’t know a lot about CSS, so this isn’t worth a seperate post. For editing your blog a working knowledge is quite useful. So far, I’ve managed to add another sidebar to my theme along the top that spans the other two sidebars, as well as tweak a few boxes, change the header, add an RSS button, etc.
Fortunately WordPress makes it easy to change things, since you can edit all the files in the admin area. Just keep backups! And remember, if you alter a theme in this way you’ll lose all changes if you switch themes. Best use plugins / widgets where possible.
The best examples are the blog theme itself. See how one thing works, and you can copy it. Anytime you’re stuck, search the web. Most CSS is simple styling tags , but there’s a lot of them. Tags such as “border-size: 20px” are self explanatory. Just be careful WHERE you put your CSS because it can really mess things up. The wordpress files are usually named “Header” “Footer” “Stylesheet” “Home or Index” etc so you can see where your changes can go. If something goes wrong, just go back.
For those who want to add extra sidebars themselves it IS quite simple, but you might spend a little time figuring things out with your theme. I found here, here and here pretty useful places to look for information.
As for graphics and images and boxes and tables – spacing can be tricky, so I just use trial and error. But hopefully your theme is commented, or you can “read” the other tables and areas, and work around them.